Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, November 04, 2009.
BB: We're back in the division here after a couple games out of it. Miami is a team that we're pretty familiar with, with our background on them, but still they've got some new faces there. [We're] looking at a quarterback that we haven't faced before [Chad Henne] and a few guys on defense. [They played] an explosive game against the Jets, two kickoff returns, a fumble return for a touchdown - when you make plays like that, it certainly increases your chances of winning. We saw a real physical team in the Indianapolis game, the way they ran the ball. They've been a good run defense all year, they cover kicks well. They're a strong, tough, physical team [with] a lot of big playmakers in all areas. Defensively, they have a lot of big pass rushers. They've got [Matt] Roth back and they acquired [Cameron] Wake. Of course, [Jason] Taylor's back and [they have Joey] Porter, so they have a pretty good group there - [Charlie] Anderson and all those guys. [They have] a couple young corners that are impressive. [They] certainly can run the ball on offense with that physical offensive line. [They have] good blocking tight ends [and running] backs. The [running] backs run hard and a good scheme. They are well-coached. They're sound. They're tough, so we know we're going to have to play a good football game on Sunday. There is no doubt about it [and], hopefully, we'll be ready to do that. That's what we're working toward.
Q: You mentioned Ted Ginn Jr. on the kickoff returns, how much of a weapon is Stephen Gostkowski's strong leg been with touchbacks?
BB: You know, that's really the best coverage you can have, kicking it out of the end zone. But the flip side of that is when you kick it deep, then that gives them the best opportunity to set up the timing on the return as opposed to the ball coming down on the 10, the 15, the eight [or the] goal line. Ideally, you get that kick to the goal line and that gives the offense - the return team - the best opportunity to get all timed up the way they work on it. But the good kick, it keeps you from having to cover it, too. When it's a touchback, it's good. When it's not, then it creates an opportunity for the return team to get their -whatever return they have - timed up. They still have to block us, we still have to get down there and make the play, but the timing element of it is probably the best you can hope for if you are a return team.
Q: What have you seen from Vontae Davis?
BB: Vontae's a physical kid, a strong tackler. [He] e]He]runs well [and] plays the ball well. He's got good speed, good quickness [and] good size. He's a good solid football player. He's been involved in the kicking game up until the last couple of week's where he has played more. He's done a good job in coverage there and holding up on the punt return while he's playing out in space, that kind of thing. He's basically been playing on their left side, our right side, like he did in preseason when he and [Sean] Smith played. That's the way they were in preseason, that's the way they've been the last couple of weeks since [Jason] Allen went out
Q: How much of a key is it, when you see the Wildcat, to control that first instinct and react as the play develops?
BB: I think however you are set up defensively, the key formations, then that's how you key them. So whatever your keys are you want everybody to read the same keys and to follow those keys. I think the problems come on any play if guys look at different things, then those keys aren't always consistent or if they all look at the same thing but don't see it the same way, for whatever reason, then that's where you get guys that [are] not consistent in fits, gaps, [and] responsibilities. And that creates problems. The big thing on defense is to be aligned properly, to play with good technique and to read the keys on a consistent basis so everybody is seeing the same thing and reacting the same way, whether it's [the] Wildcat or anything else.
Q: When you are trying to gauge your offense, what can you take from the last two games based on your opponents and the injury situations your opponents have had in the secondary?
BB: I'm not following you...
Q: If you are trying to judge your offense and figure out how good you are, what you do well...
BB: I think that's what you do. You grade the players. You grade the coaches. You grade the game and all that. What we try to do is prepare for the team we're playing and get ready to play them. Whatever grade you want to give us for the Tennessee game, the Tampa game, the Denver game or whatever it is it doesn't really matter. Those games are over. The Miami game is ahead and that's the game we're preparing for. That's the way we look at it every week - win, lose or tie. You move onto the next game. You look at the players you have available. You look at the players they're playing with and the scheme they're playing with and try to match it up the best you can. Whether we did well or didn't do well - and there're elements of that in everything, I understand that - whatever it was, we try to do everything we do better and look at the opponents we're facing and try to match up the best we can that particular week. It's certainly not about looking backwards as much as it is trying to figure out what we're going to do here with the Dolphins.
Q: How much will you use this week as a means to assess whether you're comfortable kicking to Ted Ginn Jr. or swift kick it to the 25- or 30-yard line?
BB: I think you work on situational kicking every week regardless of whom the returner is, who the team is or what the scheme is. Sometimes the conditions of the game, weather, wind or otherwise - situation - dictate that you might want to put the ball on the ground or put the ball short to a corner of the field or they might want to do that or onside kick or kickoffs or punts after a safety - whatever you want to call those. All those situational kicking plays, we work on them every week. We work on them kicking the ball and we work on defending them, in case the other team uses them against us in either a game situation or because of the field conditions in that particular game. We always work on that. We work on it and against it.
Q: With the loss of Jarvis Green for at least Sunday, how do you adjust?
BB: We have to be ready to play with all our players every week. All the guys that are active, everybody's got one, or two, or three roles, depending on how many players we have available for that particular game. We cross train our people. We train our guys at different positions. I'm sure it will be a combination of using the people we have available in different ways to try to defend Miami. Miami is a team that gives you a lot of different looks offensively. They use a lot of different personnel groupings, they use different formations, so it's really hard to be able to sit here and say right now, 'Well, this is what they're going to be in so this is what we are going to do.' We have to defend everything from empty formations, where there're no backs in the backfield, to one and two-back formations, to their different Wildcat looks. So they give you a lot of stuff to defend and I'm sure that we'll need a lot of different options to handle the variations that they show.
Q: What are your impressions on Chad Henne and Jason Taylor?
BB: I think they've both been very good. Jason, they're flip-flopping him a little bit like they did a couple years ago, so he's not always on one side or the other. You don't know exactly where he is going to be, but he's still explosive. He's long. He's got a good wingspan. He has a lot of length in the running game [against] guys that are trying to block him and also in the passing game. In his pass rush, he's still got his same speed, speed to power and counters inside, so he's a tough guy to block. Henne is a big kid, athletic, can make all the throws. We saw the pass he made to Ginn at the end of the Jets game, great throw down the field. He's a good possession passer to [Davone] Bess, [Greg] Camarillo, the [running] backs and tight ends. They also have some different varieties of gadget plays and stuff like that where he's done a good job on those, too. Screen passes, they've hit those. A lot of those touch passes, the execution plays, the slip screens, the possession passes, the shots down the field, big plays and he's shown the ability to do all of them. And he's an athletic guy, he's a big guy back there that can move around [and] is hard to sack. He's strong.
Q: With Ron Brace not seeing any action the past few weeks, how much of that has been something that he needs to improve on or how much of it has been the personnel that he's been playing?
BB: I think every player, certainly every rookie, we could write a documentary of things they need to work on. I think that's pretty much the case for every young player on our roster at every position. Our game plans from week-to-week are based on the players that we have available and the things that we feel like we have to defend from our opponent. All those active decisions, inactive decisions and playing time decisions are all based on: A, what we think is best going into the game to play that opponent and B, what the actual game situations [are], how they unfold [and] what type of strategy they're using. And sometimes the score and situation in the game dictates who's playing or what groups you're in or what type of game you're playing, so sometimes that overrides it. You can go into a game thinking we want to play it this way or we want to play it that way, but if the game doesn't really unfold that way for whatever reasons then you're playing the way it unfolds and sometimes that changes your groupings or the percentages of playtime that you liked to have, you have to change them.
Q: Have you seen Ron Brace develop?
BB: Ron works hard. I think Ron has certainly improved a lot since the end of the preseason. He's a big kid. He's got good athletic ability. He's got good playing strength. Again, like every young player, he needs technique work, reactions [and] continue to work hard, which he has and he's gotten better at playing the different blocking combinations and different responsibilities that we have in our defense and that we face. It's a tough situation for any rookie because at this point in the season he has to do a lot more things than he would've had to do in September. We're doing more and our opponents are doing more, so on a weekly basis there're more things that we get ready and there're more things that our opponents do that we have to get ready for. When you start multiplying those together, they add up. For younger players that is one of the many challenges that they face.
Q: What makes Jason Ferguson so ideal to play the nose tackle?
BB: I think he has all the qualities you want in a good nose tackle. He's tough. He's physical. He's strong. He's got good balance. He plays at a low center of gravity. He's hard to knock off the ball. He plays well laterally down the line of scrimmage. And they play [Paul] Soliai, they play him in there quite a bit, too. Sometimes both of them at the same time in their four man line, so they have two very good noses. They are a good run defense, period. Other than [Steve] Weatherford on the fake punt, they haven't had many problems in the running game defensively and it starts in the middle. They have good edge players in [Joey] Porter, [Matt] Roth, [Jason] Taylor, [Charlie] Anderson and [Cameron] Wake - whoever they put out there. They have a whole bunch of those guys and their ends have done a good job. Ferguson's a good solid football player all the way around. He doesn't have a lot of weaknesses and for a big guy he moves well. He's very athletic. He's got good balance and he's explosive. He hardly ever gets knocked off the ball.
Q: With the different Wildcat packages, they have is it safe to say you have one personnel grouping that you could run and also a base package that you have ready if he stays in?
BB: Again, they switch it around. Sometimes the quarterback's in there, sometimes he's not. Sometimes they have two backs, sometimes they have three backs and sometimes they have four backs. They have, usually, two tight ends on the field, but I don't think we can sit here and say that is an absolute because in each week they change it a little bit. They've had, of course, Ronnie [Brown] running the Wildcat. They've had Ricky [Williams] running it. They've had Pat White running it. So when one of those guys is back there, then the other guys are somewhere else. Like I said, there're a lot of different variations to it as there is to their whole offense. They change their looks up on a weekly basis, so it's really hard for us sit there and watch the film and say, 'This is what we're going to get. That's what we're going to get. This is probably not what we're going to get.' It will be something they haven't done in the last three or four weeks - formation-wise, personnel grouping - something that camouflages the looks that they're going to run. And that's definitely true of the Wildcat, whether it's an unbalanced line, not an unbalanced line, which way it's unbalanced, where the lead blockers are, where the fullback is, where the tight ends are. They change that around a lot.
Q: Does Dean Pees see the personnel changes quicker?
BB: Yeah, you can definitely see it quicker in the booth. When you're down on the field, you are basically waiting to have somebody tell you what the personnel grouping is. When you're upstairs you have the ability to see those players go on and off the field. Sometimes you can identify it yourself or if you have somebody else up there helping you with it, but it's definitely a quicker process on the personnel substitutions. And a lot of teams now - we do it, everybody does it - there're a lot of one-for-one substitutions, so you have a wide receiver going in for a wide receiver, or a back going in for a back, or a tight end going in for a tight end. It's not really a new group necessarily, it is just a one-for-one substitution and sometimes you could be in the same [grouping] - one back, two tight ends, two wide receivers, but they send a tight end and a receiver on for a tight end and a receiver. It's actually the same grouping but it's with a couple of different players, so it's the offense trying to keep the defense from zeroing in on substitutions, making them hold their calls later, making them hold their adjustments as late as possible and give the defense less time to prepare and react to it. Miami does that, a lot of teams do it. When you're upstairs, you get a clearer picture of it than you do down on the field.
Q: You see good running backs every week, but is Ricky Williams one of the most powerful backs you will face all year?
BB: He's got good power. I think Ronnie Brown is the more powerful of the two, but they're both strong, they're both big. They have to be 240, 235 [pounds] - whatever they are. They're strong. They break a lot of tackles with their lower body. Ricky's fast. He's done a good job on the outside plays [and] the screens. He catches the ball well, as Brown does, too. I think either one of those backs could be the back for anybody. They have two of them and they use them both a lot. They run the ball as much as anybody in the league and they try to wear you down in the fourth quarter. I think either one of them could probably do it by themselves and they both have. And together it just puts more stress on the defense, whether they're both in there at once or not. Only one guy can carry the ball, but fresh backs, running hard with that kind of skill are better than guys that are getting worn down a little bit. But those two guys could go all day and they run hard. They break a lot of tackles, make a lot of yards on their own and they have a good offensive line, too, don't get me wrong. They get them started and those guys break tackles and they pile up the yardage.
Q: What dimension does Chad Henne bring to that offense?
BB: I think he does everything pretty well. He's a pretty talented player. He's got good size. He runs well. He has a good arm. [He] can get the ball down the field and make all the throws. I don't think there're any limitations. I don't think [Dan] Henning and [Tony] Sparano are saying, 'We can't run this play, we can't run that play.' It looks to me they can run pretty much run any play they want with him in there. I think he can execute the whole offense.
Q: Are there any aspects of this team that you can look at and see Bill Parcells imprint to it?
BB: Any of them? I think all of them, every single one of them.
Q: How much does it mirror the things you saw in the 1980s?
BB: I think everything that Bill [Parcells] believes in is evident to this team. I think that's starting with the coaching staff. He hired [Tony] Sparano, who was with him in Dallas. [Paul] Pasqualoni was with him in Dallas. [Dan] Henning, they've been together since '72 at Florida State and a lot of other coaches on that staff, too - [Todd] Bowles - you can go right down the line. A lot of those guys have connections to Bill. Jeff Ireland was with him in terms of personnel, so players they bring in are all the kind of players he likes. All the defensive linemen are all strong. All the linebackers are big. All the outside linebackers can rush. All the corners are big. The running backs are big. The tackles are big. They are a big, powerful team. I'm sure that's the way Tony [Sparano] wants it. That's the way Bill [Parcells] wants it. That's the way Jeff [Ireland] wants it. They trade for a guy like [Tony] McDaniel [and] they [get] a big defensive lineman. That's what they want [and] that's what they got with him. Signing a guy like [Cameron] Wake from Canada that can rush the edge, that's why they signed him. He's another big guy that can run [and] rush the quarterback. I think this is Bill Parcells stamped all over it, there's no question about it.
Q: Is there ever a measure of, here we go again...
BB: That's what Bill believes in and I think he has a great philosophy. And it works for him. And it should work. You look at Dallas and it's the same thing. You go down there and you get the DeMarcus Ware's and the big defensive linemen they've had down there. [Chris] Canty and some of those guys have moved on and all, but guys he had there, they either moved on to Miami or they're still at Dallas. Chris Canty signed with the Giants, but [they have a] big offensive line in Dallas, good running backs - [Felix] Jones and [Marion] Barber - good tight ends, tight ends are part of the game with [Jason] Witten and those guys. Defensively, same thing, good corners like [Terence] Newman. The Giants, New England, Dallas, Miami, the Jets - some of them are the same guys or the same type of guys. It's worked for him every place he's been. There's no way he's going to change and there's no way he should change it. He does it in a hurry, too. He gets somewhere and pretty soon they're competitive and he gets the team shaped up the way he wants it to look. I know he's always working it and trying to get it better, working the bottom half of the roster as much as the top half of the roster. He brings in guys for reasons - roles. And that's what they do and he does a great job of it. I don't think you could do much better than he's done in his coaching career or general manager career - whatever you want to call it.